The Seattle Sounders and LAFC had a combined nine players – including multiple likely starters on both teams – called into international duty this week ahead of their Western Conference semifinal encounter.
Thanks to a break in the playoff schedule, though, all of these players should be back in plenty of time for the Nov. 26 match. The Sounders, at least, are also making sure there isn't a repeat of the last international window when Nouhou ended up getting back to Seattle just a day before the game and as a result did not start.
"We’re working on the travel arrangements for all of our players to make sure they will be back as soon as possible, on the best flights possible, so they can participate," Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said on Tuesday. "We’re going to do what we can so they have one or two training days before the game, not just show up for match day minus-1 training and play."
Still, there's the possibility that travel arrangements could create complications.
Here’s how it will look for both teams:
Josh Atencio (USA U23s): The USA plays Iraq (Nov. 18) and Morocco (Nov. 21) in Spain. The latest Atencio should rejoin training is on Nov. 24, which should give him at least one full training session. How will that impact his availability? If coaches don't feel that's enough training time, it's possible Obed Vargas or Nicolas Lodeiro could return to the starting lineup.
Stuart Hawkins (U17 World Cup): The centerback came off the bench to play five minutes in a 3-1 win over South Korea and played all 90 minutes in a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso on Wednesday. The group stage finale is on Nov. 18 against France. How will that impact his availability? Even if the US gets eliminated, Hawkins is unlikely to feature for the Sounders regardless.
Nouhou (Cameroon): The Indomitable Lions have a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Mauritius (Friday) and at Libya (Nov. 21). It's entirely possible he won't be able to train until Nov. 24. How will that impact his availability? My assumption is Nouhou would still start as long as he gets a full day of training, but Reed Baker-Whiting is now fully available and could replace him if necessary.
Dénis Bouanga (Gabon): The Golden Boot winner has World Cup qualifiers against Kenya (Thursday) and Burundi (Sunday). How will that impact his availability? This is a player who basically went straight from the airport to a match, so I doubt this will be an issue.
Maxime Crépeau (Canada): The goalkeeper will have a two-legged Nations League quarterfinal at Jamaica on Friday and a home game against them on Tuesday. How will that impact his availability? He'll be fine.
Cristian Olivera (Uruguay): The 21-year-old forward has become a regular for the Uruguay national team as they prepare for friendlies at Argentina (Thursday) and at Bolivia (Tuesday). How will that impact his availability? He's a regular starter for LAFC so this is worth watching, but he should be back in plenty of time.
Denil Maldonado (Honduras): The defender will lead Honduras into the Nations League quarterfinals against Mexico (Friday and Tuesday). How will that impact his availability? Although he logged nearly 1,700 regular-season minutes, he's not really played in the postseason.
Stipe Biuk (Croatia U-21): The forward has a pair of Euro U21 qualifiers against Slovakia (Thursday) and Belarus (Nov. 20). How will that impact his availability? Although Biuk played in 30 of 34 regular-season games, he did not feature in either first-round match. He probably isn't going to play regardless.
Filip Krastev (Bulgaria): The midfielder appears to be joining Bulgaria for a pair of Euro qualifiers vs. Hungary (Thursday) and Serbia (Sunday). How will that impact his availability? He barely plays for LAFC anyway, so it's probably a non-issue.